Bureau of Labor Statistics to Continue Collecting Data on Women Workers

An amendment attached to the Labor, Health, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill requires the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to resume its Women Worker Series, a 40-year-old program providing monthly data on women’s employment, after BLS discontinued the program in August 2005. The appropriations bill has been passed by both houses of Congress and sent to the president for his signature on December 28. Amendment co-sponsors Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) worked with US Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-NY) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to preserve the amendment in the final version of the appropriations bill.

BLS discontinued the series as part of what it called “planned improvements” to its Current Employment Statistics survey, citing a so-called “reporting burden” on employer survey respondents as one of its reasons for ending the series. Women’s rights organizations, including the Feminist Majority, labor unions, and several members of Congress voiced strong opposition, arguing that the BLS data provides crucial information about women’s employment patterns and job loss in the US.

In a statement, Representative Van Hollen called the reinstatement of this data collection “a win for women in the workplace, and it is a win for informed public policymaking, which depends upon reliable information to guide it.” Similarly, Senator Harkin said, “If we are going to put an end to long-standing economic discrimination against women, we need to have comprehensive and accurate gender employment information.”

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Feminist Daily News 8/11/05, 10/28/05; Press Release from Chris Van Hollen, 11/17/05; Status of Appropriations Legislation for Fiscal Year 2006 and HR3010

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